I served on the Bordelon from June 1951 to February 1953. In the Fall of 1951 Captain Kenneth Hines sent me to Shore Fire Control School at Little Creek when the course was half over. I was tutored by the Marine and Naval Officers after hours for all three weeks to catch up and become certified, even though I was not a graduate.

 

Luckily we finally had a new CO: CDR Werth, who was the opposite of Hines. The last thing the Bordelon did for Gitmo Refresher Training was go to Culebra Island (about 400 miles from Gitmo on the NE coast of PR). I went ashore to direct the bombardment. I had already transferred to the USS Stockham in Gitmo, by taking my belongings across the pier. The Bordelon CO asked me to stay on for Culebra. He promised he would get me a flight back to Gitmo. However I had to stay on the island for the night exercises and the last M boat to "Rosey Roads" left at 4 PM.

 

Then a storm came up and the ship left for Norfolk, leaving me on the island for a weekend with 5 Marines. I learned to direct the planes in bombing and strafing which occurred there on Saturdays then. This was done with a bottle of brew in your left hand and in a uniform of swimsuit and sun tan oil. Bright and early Monday, the Vogelsang spotter shows up with the Commodore and Andy Whites, his flag LT. He whispers to Andy "Who is that jg there?" Andy says that's the guy you promise to get back to Gitmo. That night the exercises were late so rather than pick up on the southern shore dock, they sent in a whaleboat into the firing range bay: Flamingo, to pick us up in the coral reefs.

 

I had a dress uniform to report in, which was mauled in the boat. We arrived on the ship in the dark as it went to GQ for night bombardment. I was given a rack to sleep in and I shocked the CO and XO when I arrived in the Wardroom for breakfast in the middle of the ocean. I reported to the Stockham in very dirty work clothes after drinking anjeho punches all day with the Atlantic Fleet Chief of Staff.

 

My records show it took me 6 days to cross the dock from one ship to another. When I returned to Culebra to direct the bombardment for the Stockham two months later, the Marines gave me a big Homecoming Party.

 

DeWitt Peterson

June 1951-Feb 1953

Asst Gunnery Officer

Asst Eng. Officer